Vigorous exercise, the kind that makes you sweat, get red in the face and breathe hard, may be better than moderate exercise when it comes to living longer.
The study by Australian researchers is based on more than 200,000 adults over age 45, and is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) Internal Medicine.
The study participants were followed for more than six years.
Those who did jogging, aerobics or competitive tennis -- vigorous exercise for 30% of their weekly workouts -- had a mortality rate that was nine to 13% lower than those who did moderate exercise, like swimming, social tennis, or household chores.
"The benefits of vigorous activity applied to men and women of all ages, and were independent of the total amount of time spent being active," said lead author Klaus Gebel from James Cook University's Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention.
"The results indicate that whether or not you are obese, and whether or not you have heart disease or diabetes, if you can manage some vigorous activity it could offer significant benefits for longevity."
Currently, the World Health Organization urges adults to do at least 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.
But the current research suggests that given the choice, people should opt for some higher intensity exercise if they can, and if their doctor agrees, the study authors said.
"Our research indicates that even small amounts of vigorous activity could help reduce your risk of early death," Gebel said.
"For those with medical conditions, for older people in general, and for those who have never done any vigorous activity or exercise before, it's always important to talk to a doctor first."